Is it possible to use a 3D printer to make period ship decorations?!

I hear a regular chorus of builders asking for better decorations for ship models. I also see dozens and dozens of ships that have not been modelled and it seems to me there’s an opportunity to open a whole new area of modelling here. Wouldn’t it be nice if one could find a way to create ship decorations out of thin air?

Ship decorations come in a variety of alloys, making the modelling harder or easier, depending on the product. In some cases, a modeller can use the decorations straight from the box and in other cases, decorations need to be cleaned up and painted before they can be used. There is also the issue of the malleability of the alloy as wood ship hulls are never perfect and the parts sometimes need to be adjusted to fit the contour of the model.

So, if one were to start from scratch, what would be the best alloy to use? The most common alloy is something called Zamak. Zamak is a trademarked family of alloys with a base metal of zinc and alloying elements of aluminium, magnesium, and copper. These zinc alloys have a constant 4% aluminum composition but also include magnesium and copper. Zamak is a form of white metal and is easily plated and painted. However, the product is not malleable and brittle and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to bend the alloy to a required shape.

So, what to use?

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